United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
ANTHONY TELLIS, ET AL.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, ET AL.
HORNSBY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
filed a motion to strike Defendants' jury demand, arguing
that because Plaintiffs request only injunctive relief,
Defendants have no constitutional right to a jury trial.
[Records Document 225, 225-1]. Defendants responded that
because compliance with the injunctive relief requested will
likely cost Defendants substantial sums of money,
Plaintiffs' request is in effect a request for damages at
law, which entitles Defendants to a jury trial. [Record
Document 229 at 2]. In the alternative, Defendants urge the
Court to utilize an advisory jury under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 39(c). [Record Document 229 at 5]. For the reasons
stated below, Plaintiffs' motion [Record Document 225] is
filed the instant suit on February 19, 2018. In their initial
complaint, Plaintiffs sought a judgment from the Court that
Defendants are in violation of the Eighth Amendment, Title II
of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ("RHA").
[Record Document 1 at 3, 51-52]. As redress, Plaintiffs
prayed that this Court "[e]nter injunctive relief
enjoining Defendants and their agents" from further
illegal actions, award Plaintiffs the costs of the suit and
reasonable attorneys' fees, and retain jurisdiction over
the case until Defendants fully comply with any orders from
the Court. [Record Document 1 at 52]. Plaintiffs subsequently
filed an amended complaint seeking the same
remedies. [Record Document 154 at 3, 53-54]. In
their answer to Plaintiffs' original and amended
complaint, Defendants requested a trial by jury. [Record
Documents 35 at 38 and 158 at 41].
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 39, a court must allow a jury
trial when properly demanded unless it determines that no
federal right to a jury trial exists in the case.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 39(a)(2). Before determining if there is a
constitutional right to a jury trial, a court should consider
whether the right to a jury trial has been conferred
statutorily. City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at
Monterey, 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999).
case, Defendants do not argue that they are statutorily
entitled to a jury trial, and the statutes at issue do not
grant Defendants such a right. In City of Monterey,
the Supreme Court held that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not
independently confer a statutory right to a jury trial upon
actions filed under this statute. Id. at 708.
Similarly, neither Title II of the ADA nor the RHA provide an
independent right to a jury trial. Smith v. Harton,
914 F.2d 1330, 1336 (9th Cir. 1990); Matthews v.
Jefferson, 29 F.Supp.2d 525, 536 (W.D. Ark. 1998).
Court must therefore determine if Defendants have a
constitutional right to demand a jury trial in this case. The
Seventh Amendment states that "[i]n Suits at common law,
where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars,
the right of trial by jury shall be preserved ... ."
U.S. Const, amend. VII. Under well-established Supreme Court
precedent, "Suits at common law" has been
interpreted to "refer to 'suits in which legal
rights were to be ascertained and determined, in
contradistinction to those where equitable rights alone were
recognized, and equitable remedies were
administered.'" Granfinanceria, S.A. v.
Nordberg, 492 U.S. 33, 41 (1989) (quoting Parsons v.
Bedford, 28 U.S. 433, 447 (1830)) (emphasis in
those suits enforcing statutory rights, "[f]irst, we
compare the statutory action to 18th-century actions brought
in the courts of England prior to the merger of the courts of
law and equity. Second, we examine the remedy sought and
determine whether it is legal or equitable in nature."
Id. at 42 (quoting Tull v. United States,
481 U.S. 412, 417-18 (1987)). The nature of the remedy is
more important than how an action compares to those of the
18th century. Id.
arising under § 1983, the ADA, or the RHA and seeking
legal remedies are analogous to those traditionally brought
in courts of law, and the right to a jury trial in those
instances is constitutionally guaranteed. City of
Monterey, 526 U.S. at 709; Vazquez v. Municipality
of Juncos, 756 F.Supp.2d 154, 168 (D.P.R. 2010). Thus,
Defendants' right to a jury trial turns on whether
Plaintiffs seek legal or equitable remedies.
do not dispute that injunctions are traditionally equitable
in nature. [Record Document 229 at 5]. Instead, they argue
that because the specific injunction Plaintiffs seek would
likely force Defendants to spend "thousands, if not
millions, of dollars" to implement new policies and
change how DWCC is operated, it exceeds the scope of the
injunctions traditionally issued by courts of equity and
should be treated as a legal remedy. [Record Document 229 at
Supreme Court has explained:
Our cases have long recognized the distinction between an
action at law for damages-which are intended to provide a
victim with monetary compensation for an injury to his
person, property, or reputation-and an equitable action for
specific relief-which may include an order providing for the
reinstatement of an employee with backpay, or for "the
recovery of specific property or monies, ejectment